Disney teams with Japanese companies

March 6, 2008 9:15:08 AM PST
Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. will team up with several Japanese companies to produce animation for television in Japan, a leading market, a Disney official said Thursday. Disney will work with Toei Animation Co., Madhouse Co. and Jinni's Animation Studios, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to comply with company rules.

The move was aimed at localizing contents of Disney products for a wider audience, she said. "We need to make contents which fit the Japanese market to further boost the popularity of Disney in Japan," she said.

With Madhouse, Disney will produce a 30-minute TV program "Stitch!," an offspring of the Lilo & Stitch series, to be aired in Japan, the official said. The company has not decided when the show will go on air, she said.

A Japanese girl named Hanako will play Stitch's sidekick in the new show and the imaginary story will take place in a southern Japanese island, instead of in Hawaii as in the original, the company said in a statement.

With Jinni, Disney will make a short animation film "Fireball," which will go on air in April on Disney's cable channel and Tokyo Metropolitan Television, according to the official.

The company had announced a tie-up with Toei Animation in 2006, but the partnerships with Madhouse and Jinni were announced for the first time Thursday, she said.

The moves allow Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., to tap local talent and computer graphics technology to produce programs in Japan. Disney has no immediate plans to air the programs in other countries, but it is eyeing overseas markets, the official said.

Disney has its own animation and movie channels in more than 100 countries, including Japan, where it launched Disney Channel in 2003. The company also started offering a cellular phone service here this month.

The company said that it has produced TV series and films in other countries, denying reports this was the first time for Disney to do so. Disney could expand partnerships with other companies, the official said.

Disney is the parent company of 6abc.

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